Nine die in French Alps avalanche at Mont Maudit

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

An avalanche in the French Alps has caused at least nine fatalities, French authorities have confirmed. At least another nine were also injured in the incident in the Mont Maudit, close to the commune of Chamonix in the south-east of the country.

Emergency services were alerted to the incident area when one of the individuals directly affected by the avalanche activated the emergency alarm at approximately 0525 CEST (0325 UTC) this morning. Local authorities have described the avalanche, which impacted roped groups, as "the most deadly of recent years".

Four people are reportedly still missing. Heat-seeking devices and helicopters are being used by rescue workers to search for missing persons.

Around 28 individuals of various nationalities were thought to be participating in the expedition. Injured victims have been transported to hospital by airlift.

Mont Maudit, the third greatest peak in the Mont Blanc massif, has a height of 4,465 metres (about 14,650 feet). Its name translates into English as 'cursed mountain'.